I-73 pits Grand Strand against Midlands, Upstate

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – The 2013 Legislative Session will begin in Columbia soon, and elected officials had a chance to explain their upcoming agendas in the State House. But what was initially a debate down party lines, changed into an argument of region versus region.

"[Area codes] 864 and 803 make it, 843 spends it!" exclaimed State Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler in response to talk of Interstate 73.  Senator Peeler says funding that would go to the controversial proposed interstate would be better off in his district in the Upstate.

"My constituents go to Myrtle Beach, they vacation there. My constituents spend money which you spend on things like Coastal Carolina, Horry Georgetown Tech, and road projects."

Speaking up for the road project was Democratic State Senator Yancey McGill, who represents much of the area I-73 would affect.

"Interstate 73 is not just about Horry County," he said. "It's a state road project."

What began as an argument down party lines, however, quickly blurred as Democratic State Representative Harry Ott spoke up.

"I want the press to hear this," he said. "I agree with Senator Peeler!"

Much of the argument boils down to funding for the interstate, with Senator Peeler and Representative Ott recommending work be done on roads within their districts.

"We need to work with DOT to make sure we've got priorities in the right place," Representative Ott said.

But Senator McGill says he stands by I-73, saying it will bring jobs not just to Horry County and the Pee Dee, but other areas of the state as well.

"It'll take years to build I-73, but 'No' can't be in your vocabulary," he said. "Don't ever say there's no money."

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